THE GODS, MORTALS, THE EARTH, SHOES, THE TEMPLE, THE SKY, THE BRIDGE, THE JUG, THE FOURFOLD, THE POEM, PAIN, THE THRESHOLD, THE DIFFERENCE, & STILLNESS
Ryan Patrick Smith
QuikTrip of gas-slicks of broken-down rainbowed light
burned black, ruined, stripped down. Now little fires are all around, passing hand to hand: graffiti-stained-glass, frescoed pumps,
flames on the ends of wicks vigil & remembering
the boy, his cop-shot body face-down in the road. One girl, undercover in her camo head, a bandanna pouring its red mask over her mouth, sheer
Thursday night's surveilled stomach dark below the knotted
Che of her t-shirt, sneakers packing slender, dangerous feet, throws in her share of tonight's
leonine poses, fists' rites, quotes NWA in stereo-black on her cardboard, like she knows the ones
who send their bright white dove to touch her like she is the newly baptized: fuck them. Everyone who led her, singing, straight through day into tonight's garden,
bridge-crossing. Fuck them. Closes her fist around a candle's neck until the wax in her fingers is running like milk.
Until the milk in her jug is running over her eyes, running like the word flame
runs over fire, the word gas over tear. Somebody already asking
who's that masked black girl, thinking it's a question. & she looks into the camera & closes her fist into stillness.
1) In August 2014, I joined one of the nightly protests in Ferguson, Missouri, that followed the shooting of Michael Brown by a white Ferguson police officer. The night was the first after the Ferguson Police Department had been removed from command over its militarized response to demonstrations. 2) I took a photo that night in the parking lot of a burned-down Quik-Trip gas station of a teenage girl holding a "Fuck the Police" sign. 3) The night's pause in open state violence proved to be both temporary and merely tactical. 4) I wrote this poem to interrogate my taking of her photo. 5) The title comes from the translator's introduction to Heidegger's Poetry, Language, Thought, and is a list of subjects of Heidegger's phenomenological writings on aesthetics.